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  • The City of Cape Town is investigating the actions of law enforcement officers filmed cornering a naked man outside his shack. 
  • The man and the officers scuffled in the sand outside his shack. 
  • The man was taken for a medical examination by representatives of the EFF.

The City of Cape Town said it is urgently investigating the circumstances of a video depicting law enforcement officers cornering a naked man outside his shack.

The shack was then torn down with the man inside.

“The incident of a nude man depicted on the video occurred during a City law enforcement operation,” said City of Cape Town spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo. 

“The actions of officers involved in this matter is being investigated with urgency, including other footage which the City has, and once the investigation has been completed, the appropriate action will be taken.”

The man’s name was not released.

Horrified

The opposition EFF and ANC were horrified by what they saw.

EFF councillor Mbulelo Dwane told News24 he had been on his way to the Khayelitsha Covid-19 forum when he received an urgent call to get to Empolweni as soon as possible.

He thought it was about the provision of chemical toilets, which were expected for delivery, but was told that a large number of law enforcement vehicles had been gathering, and people in the area were worried.

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When he saw that the chemical toilets had not arrived, he made a call regarding this.

However, while he was concluding the call, he saw the officers drive in. 

“I can confirm that over 20 informal settlements were destroyed. The naked guy was getting ready for his 15:00 shift and they got him bathing, and what you see on the video then transpired,” Dwane said via WhatsApp.

In the video, the man runs out of the shack, and around the area in front of the shack, and is brought to the ground. But, after scuffling, he falls and then gets up again. He manages to run back into the shack.

Meanwhile, a side of the shack is torn down.

Examination

Dwane said the City’s metro police was also present.

Dwane said the man was taken for a medical examination afterwards by EFF representatives.

ANC leader in the City of Cape Town, Xolani Sotashe, said the law enforcement unit used force, with the intention to dehumanise the man.

“They just dragged him out. He was naked.”

Sotashe explained that people had been living in tents for four months, but due to the cold and rain had decided to build shacks.

He said the site was not quite in Empolweni, but nearby in Ethembeni.

In a later statement, he said he knew the man’s name.

Bath

He said: “He told me he was having a bath in preparation to go to work. He asked to be allowed to get dressed.

“They wouldn’t listen to him and sprayed him with pepper spray on his private parts and in his eyes. He could not get their names because they did not wear name tags.

“They acted illegally because they did not have a court [order] or a warrant. This man is shattered. We condemn this inhumane and barbaric action.”

In April, a court ruled that, due to the lockdown, almost 50 shacks, which had been built and then razed on council-owned land in Empolweni, could be rebuilt. Anybody else wanting to build there had to seek special permission. 

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Tyhalibongo confirmed the land in question belonged to the City of Cape Town, and various operations had been conducted to prevent illegal land occupation. 

“After [being] removed, new attempts are made to invade again on a daily basis,” he said.

“The land is earmarked for installation of services to serve the broader community in the area. There is an interdict in place as well as a recent court order, which allows only 49 households to temporarily remain on the land until after the lockdown. 

“The City must also maintain this recent court order. The City will communicate further in due course.” 

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